THIS year marks the end of a yearly tradition for the Foale family.
For the past nine years, the family has honoured their father’s memory – who passed away in 2009 from cancer – by decorating the “Santa Tree” in Marana Avenue, Rose Bay.
“We had nursed him at home in Marana Avenue,” Lousie Paoli said.
“On the Friday before he died, we wheeled him outside to view the Santa suit my sister-in-law had sewn to cover his beloved topiary tree.
“His comment on seeing the suit made from sail cloth was, ‘it’s great, but he needs a belt.’
“Lovingly we have continued the tradition of decorating the tree, but sadly, this year will be our last.
“Not only has the Santa suit started to show its age, but we are selling our beloved family home as, at 90, our dear mum has needed to relocate to the nearby Freemason’s Home.”
Mary and Peter Foale built the family home on Marana Avenue 68 years ago.
They ventured across the Derwent in 1950 in search of land and began a happy married life together in Tasmania for 59 years.
They began construction on the home with the help of neighbours and post-war tradespeople.
Here, at what was formally known as 95 Riawena Road, they raised their family of seven surviving children.
Since then, 31 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren have been welcomed in to play in the gardens and rooms of this much-loved home.
“Dad always loved Christmas,” Ms Paoli said.
“He first hung a cardboard painted life-size Santa in our loungeroom window – it could be seen from those sailing on the river.
“Once retirement came and with the advent of grandchildren, he became a little more creative.
“In the late 1980s, he made wooden templates of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a Bart Simpson and placed them alongside two cotoneaster trees.
“Then, with some skill and patience, he started to train the tree in the nature strip into a waving figure.”
Ms Paoli said the original Santa Tree of the 1990s saw Mr Foale experiment with red industrial plastic, wire, rope, coke bottle eyes and a “rather scary smile.”
“Dad would clamber over the tree using a wooden ladder to decorate his tree,” she said.
“He would come down, think for a bit, and climb back up to redecorate it – only once he was truly happy would he stay down.
“And so, it became a photo stop for many passing motorists and walkers.”
Mr Foale’s other Christmas tradition was to dress as Santa to distribute gifts to his grandchildren.
This tradition is now upheld every Christmas by a male member of the family.
“Sixty-eight years on we say farewell to this beloved family home, but our love, treasured memories and sense of family will live on in all of us,” Ms Paoli said.
Caption: The extended Foale family in front of the Santa Tree, located in Rose Bay.